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'Downside Still Open,' Trader Says, But May Called 4 Cents Higher

May natural gas is expected to open 4 cents higher Wednesday morning at $2.57 as traders factor in cooler temperatures in the more deferred time horizons. Overnight oil markets rose.

Forecasters are calling for cooler temperatures east of the Continental Divide later in the month. MDA Weather Services in its 11-15 day outlook said, "Computer models bring a stronger ridge to the Arctic Circle versus previous expectations, providing additional cool air support. The forecast trends cooler as a result and brings below-normal temperatures to many areas from the Plains to the East.

"The active nature of the pattern, however, limits confidence in the sustainability and depth of the cool air within this period; however, model guidance from GFS and ECMWF [computer models] generally provide colder risks in the eastern half. The West remains variable, with temperatures that are near and slightly above normal overall."

Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective calculates a 42 Bcf build for Thursday's Energy Information Administration inventory report, and he said he sees above-average injections for the next several weeks, taking the five-year deficit down to 80 Bcf by May 1. This is "confirming that the market is becoming better supplied on a seasonally adjusted basis, which most often translates into declining prices over the intermediate term," he said.

"With inventories still below the five-year average level, we continue to note that natural gas is not overstocked the way the petroleum market is, and so it may not take that much of a fundamental shift to send prices higher again, but for now the downside still looks open," he said in closing comments Tuesday to clients.

In overnight Globex trading May crude oil rose 67 cents to $53.96/bbl and May RBOB gasoline added 3 cents to $1.8647/gal.

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